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Ethnology of Tokelau Islands


The plaiting of mats, clothing and baskets is woman's work but the men also make the quickly plaited coconut leaf baskets and sheets. Plaited materials were widely used in pre-European times, for the Tokelau atolls grow no plants from which bark cloth could be made and the people did not practice weaving. Plaited breechclouts and kilts provided clothing for the men. Plaiting is still extensively used in building and furnishing houses, and for hats for both men and women. But its use for clothing and bedding has been decreased by the introduction of European cloth.

Plaiting materials are coconut leaves, fala or kie pandanus, and strips of prepared kanava bark.

The terminology used in the description of the plaiting process is taken from Hiroa (28) with the addition of the term “commencement corner”. (See fig. 18.)